Knockout Negative Self-Talk
It sounds a bit cruel, but you are the only person that you’ll be able to count on for your entire adult life. Lovers may leave; parents may pass away. And friendships? Well, they may flop. What’s more, if you’re like much of the population, your siblings may be scattered across the nation, making flying out to see them every time you have a crisis simply unfathomable.
Therefore, you should really be investing more in your relationship with yourself. This includes breaking bad habits and taking sound care of both your mind and body (you only get one!). You can improve your ability to do all of these things effectively by engaging in more positive self-talk.
Studies show that individuals who make an effort to be understanding and compassionate toward themselves tend to be more successful in meeting their goals than individuals who engage in excessive self-critiquing or destructive self-talk. Basically, positivity begets positivity and that makes sense.
If your best friend was engaging in a self-loathing commentary about how her (perceived) habit of overeating will lead to her dying alone with nothing but the cookie crumbs in her bed to keep her company, you’d roll your eyes. Then, (hopefully) you’d give her some encouraging words that brought her back down to reality.
Why, then, do you not do the same when the voices inside your head claim that you’ll never get that promotion at work because everyone at the last meeting thought your repetitive coughing (due to seasonal allergies) was a purposeful and rude way of interrupting the speaker?
Most likely, you would never dare criticize your child, spouse, or coworker as harshly as you criticize yourself, because you know that it only makes things worse. Why, then, would you allow yourself to criticize yourself so harshly? Could it simply be because negative self-talk is easy to fall back on or that you are simply unaware of or pay little attention to your thinking patterns?
There are four types of negative thinking that can prevent you from engaging in positive self-talk:
When something unfortunate happens, do you automatically assume that it is your fault? If so, you may be engaging in this negative thought pattern.
Think back to your hypothetical best friend (the one who’ll die alone with only cookie crumbs in her bed) and you’ll have an excellent example of this negative thought pattern. Blowing things ‘up’ or ‘out of proportion’ is a surefire way to find yourself overwhelmed and bombarded by negative self-talk.
If you have a tendency to only see things as fantastic or absolutely awful with no in-between, then you might be falling prey to polarizing thought patterns. Newsflash: Success usually falls somewhere in between perfection and failure.
Filtering happens when we skim right past all of the positives and focus in on one or two negatives. It’s difficult to engage in positive self-talk when all you see is the bad stuff.
Being mindful of your thought patterns can serve as a first step to being aware of your self-talk. Once you’re aware of it, you can find ways to modify it for a more peaceful, productive frame of mind.